I got a ticket a few weeks ago. Not an annoying “read the signs, moron” parking ticket, but a big, painful, moving violation.
The street I use to get to the office has a fairly large, rather obvious sign that says “No Right Turn Mon-Fri 7am-10am”. But I have a fairly large, rather obvious need to get to work on Mon-Fri 7am-10am, and I just happen to need to take a right turn to do it. The alternative, as I was indelicately told, is to turn left, drive up the road a bit, make a U-Turn, come back and proceed straight up the offending road.
Needless to say, I turned right.
Enter the police.
Now, it should be noted that the officer who had been waiting for me all morning was very kind, though that served to ease my annoyance at having been caught very little.
And therein lies my dilemma. I did something wrong. There is very little I can do to deny that and still tell the truth. It seemed – and seems – that the officer should have let me off seeing as I work not 100 yards from the turn and the restriction was created to stop people from using the road to cut through traffic at dangerously unsafe speeds. I was obviously not one of those people, I insisted. But the officer was adamant and there was very little I could do because I was wrong. So I accepted my $300 ticket and drove my 50 yards and parked, more than a little frustrated and annoyed. But while the majority of my ensuing bluster may have been aimed at the officer, he had done nothing wrong and thus deserved none of that anger. No, what angered me was that I had been caught. I saw the sign every day, I knew that I was breaking the law – right or wrong – and yet I made a choice, every day, to do wrong and make my life a little easier. Could I argue that I found the law unnecessary in this instance and thus formed my own rebellion of action in protest? Of course. Would it be true? Maybe. Are there a dozen better ways to get that point across. Almost certainly. No matter my protestations, the facts remain the same. I saw a rule and I broke it, on purpose.
Now, I know this sounds rather melodramatic, but for some reason it stuck with me as a rather important microcosm of human behavior. How often do we see the choice between what is right and what is wrong (and for the moment, let’s assume following the law is ‘right’) as a choice between what is hard and what is easy?
I try to follow the path of right action, but often that path leads to more difficulty than ease. And I’m fine with that. The discussion of Good vs Evil is an important one, but it is not to be encapsulated in a blog post. What I’m actually getting to – in an admittedly roundabout way – is personal responsibility. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care which of you choose to live a life of Good or Evil, but what I want to focus on right now is how you live that choice.
A choice to make an illegal right turn is not the same as committing murder, but it is still a choice of which to be aware. Every choice we make has repercussions, and every choice we make is our own.
So if you’re going to make a choice, cop to it, oblique pun intended. Monitor your choices and make sure they reflect the person you want to be. In a time when a citizen’s acts of hatred and heinous violence can be blamed on a political party, videogame, or 17th century work of satire, it becomes even more important that we all take stock of what we are doing and why. We make choices because we want to. If you don’t want to, don’t make the choice.
And for those of you that need bullet points, this rather verbose account of an annoying morning is probably much more simply summed up by a line from the shortlived “Jack and Bobby”:
It’s not about what’s easy. It’s about who you want to be.